Image Image Image Image Image

CosmosUp | January 20, 2021

Scroll to top



5 False Conceptions About Space

By | On + -

Comet Tails

Picture a comet for a moment. Odds are most of you pictured a chunk of ice shooting through space with a stream of light or fire trailing behind it because of its speed. Well it may come as a surprise that the way a comet tail trails has nothing to do with the direction in which the comet is moving.

That’s because, unlike with meteors, the tail of a comet is not the result of friction or break up. It’s caused by heat and solar wind, which melt the ice and send dust particles flying in the opposite direction. For this reason, the tail of a comet does not drag behind it, but will always point away from the Sun.


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5


  1. Fredrik Bonde

    You would lose heat in space, albeit slowly, by radiation. That’s the reason why ISS have those big radiators.

  2. Simon

    Actually, most comets have 2 tails. One tail reacting to the solar wind as you described, the ion gas tail, the other due to ablation when larger particles are shed behind the comet due to solar heating, the dust tail.

  3. Scott

    The amount of scientific inaccuracies in this article are beyond me. Learn what plasma is and thermal dynamics before you start making articles about ridiculous concepts.

    “So the Sun does give off light and heat, but there is no conventional fire involved at all. It is simply a giant, warm glow.”

    Yup a warm glow of several thousands of degrees of super heated gases called plasma, yeah no fire but isn’t just a warm glow. At least explain what plasma is to people.

  4. paul van den Bergen

    The gaseous tail of comets is so nebulous and thin as to be almost indistinguishable from a vacuum. If you were inside it you wouldn’t be able to tell. They are bright because they are big, many 1000 ‘ times bigger than the nucleus of the comet.

  5. Jeff

    Awkward! Black holes are not planets. They are actually dead stars.

  6. BGriffin

    The title is one of few things in this article that got reasonably close to the truth.
    A better name would be;
    “More Misconceptions Than You Want to Count”.
    It would be a good idea to clarify that the article serves as an example of the misconceptions and does not delve into why the ideas are wrong, nor offer any well vetted alternatives.

  7. TomW

    The big misconception I often have to debunk is ”there’s no gravity in space”. People thinking that spacecraft just hang there in weightlessness, not understanding what an orbit is, and thinking that rockets just go straight up into space and once they’re out of the atmosphere that’s it!

Leave a Comment

Comments Feed

You can use these tags in comments<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> (Need help with these tags?)  

© 2021 CosmosUp, INC. All Rights Reserved.